Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Judge Blocks Testimony from FDA, Cadden et al

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A magistrate judge today denied a motion filed in behalf of two Tennessee clinics seeking to take sworn testimony from federal health officials and defendants and witnesses in the criminal case stemming from a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal turned down the request to depose Barry J. Cadden, Robert Ronzio, Joseph Connolly and John Notarianni. She also rejected a request by clinic lawyers to take testimony from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Lawyers for clinics in Crossville and Oak Ridge, Tenn. had asked that an existing stay barring the depositions be lifted.
The clinics are defendants in civil suits brought by victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak caused by fungus laden drugs shipped from Cadden's company, the New England Compounding Center to health facilities around the country. The suits were consolidated before a federal judge in Boston, Mass.
The clinics had argued that the stay was no longer needed because Cadden was convicted in late March on 57 felony counts including racketeering and mail fraud. He also has been sentenced to a nine year prison term.
Boal, however, said the case against Cadden has not been finally resolved and while Ronzio has entered a guilty plea to a conspiracy charge, he has not been sentenced.
Cadden was president and part owner of NECC. Ronzio was NECC's national sales director.
Joseph Connolly, a former NECC employee, was a witness at Cadden's 10 week trial and is likely to be called to testify against codefendant Glenn Chin, whose trial is scheduled for September. John Notarianni, a former salesman for an NECC affiliate, also could be called as a witness.
In her brief order, Boal noted that circumstances had changed since the original stay was issued. At that time Cadden and Chin were scheduled to be tried at the same time, but the presiding judge subsequently severed the cases.
The motion to lift the stay was filed in behalf of the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville, Tenn. and the PCA Pain Center in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Suits filed against a third Tennessee clinic, the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center in Nashville have been resolved under the terms of a confidential settlement estimated in excess of $20 million.
The 2012 outbreak sickened 778 patients in 20 states, killing at least 76 of them. In Tennessee 153 patients were sickened and 16 of them died.

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